Street art done properly, it can transform a neighbourhood, and even an entire city. It enhances dull, and boring buildings, making them bright, and vibrant works of art. The streets become interesting, capturing imaginations, and a pleasure to discover. Montreal obviously agrees, as it recently held a mural festival, celebrating creativity with a variety of street art.
A number of invited, talented young artists are decorating the buildings with original, and often amusing murals. There is usually a message to street art, it is often political, or poking fun at religion. It provokes thought, the viewer attempting to interpret the message of the artist.
Some of the artists were painting during the festival, and being interviewed about their work. There were thousands of visitors, admiring their creativity, complete or not.
Not all the art was on the buildings, many artists were producing portable paintings on glass. These were double-sided, the images visible on both sides. There was also more traditional artwork on large canvases, boards or even ISO shipping containers, plus many sculptors were displaying their artistic visions in three-dimensional forms.
Musicians and dancers performed on street corners, beside busy bars or adjacent to food vendors. The music adding to the festival atmosphere, some were even worth listening to! Good or bad, they often had small crowds congregating around them, unfortunately one, or two only performed to themselves, but hey as long as they were having fun too!
A group of girl street dancers in red jumpsuits kept the crowd anticipating their performance, waiting several minutes, sitting and tapping their hands, and feet. Then when they did begin to move, they just stood up and danced off down the street, by which stage most watchers walked in the opposite direction. Not sure they got the concept of entertaining their audience, but they definitely had oodles of presence and attitude.
Occasionally there was a loud cheer, it wasn’t any particularly good street performer, or artist, but France scoring another goal in the World Cup. Most of bars were filled with jubilant, and boisterous French-speaking Canadians cheering on their team.
Many thousands of street art lovers had descended on Montreal. Enjoying the great weather, dropping a coin in the hats of the street performers, and appreciating the artistic creativity on display. A mural festival is a great idea, apart from the fun atmosphere while it is being held, there is the lasting legacy of vibrant, colourful buildings, and an end to boring walls.
Let’s hope it’s a concept which really catches on elsewhere, there are plenty of dull cities that could do with a street art makeover.